The Philadelphia-Israel Chamber of Commerce (PICC) will honor former Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell with the 2017 Yitzhak Rabin Public Service Award on March 15 at the Crystal Tea Room.
The award, created by PICC, is given annually to a corporation or private Delaware Valley citizen who has contributed to the fostering of economic and educational ties with Israel.
Past recipients include Delaware Gov. Jack Markell, former Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter, Thomas Jefferson University Hospitals and Thomas Jefferson University, Philadelphia Consul General of Israel Daniel Kutner and Pennsylvania Treasurer Robert McCord, to name a few.
In his 34 years wearing several hats as the Philadelphia district attorney, mayor and governor of Pennsylvania, Rendell is often credited with helping restore the city’s financial footing.
“He was instrumental to turning the city from a city with a tremendous economic crisis to a city that is thriving, that is attracting cities to come and live here, to businesses to establish their offices here, and he opened Philadelphia to stronger commercial ties with other countries,” said Vered Nohi-Becker, PICC’s executive director. “That’s why we’re honoring him.”
She added that Rendell discovered the significance and potential of Israeli technologies and advancements and made it a priority to increase international trade.
During his time as mayor, he cut a $250 million deficit, creating new ways of generating revenue.
Nohi-Becker said the PICC board chose Rendell as this year’s recipient because “he was able to turn the city of Philadelphia to a thriving city, attracting individuals and businesses to come back to the city.”
“With his leadership, he stimulated international connections and advocated for international trade, new technologies and collaboration with Israel,” she said.
Nohi-Becker said Yitzhak Rabin also advocated for those same things during his time as Israel’s prime minister.
“Yitzhak Rabin was a politician, a statesman, a general who dedicated his career to public service, striving to create a sustainable and flourishing Israel. So this award basically is in the spirit of his vision,” she said.
The mission of PICC is not to further an independent Israel, but rather about “growing the economic and commercial friendship and research ties with Israel with a focus on innovation.”
As Israel is second to Silicon Valley when it comes to innovation, she noted, Rendell laid the foundation for Philadelphia to thrive as an international city with an active startup community.
PICC focuses on Israeli innovation, so she said they are trying to attract Israeli companies to collaborate with local companies and academic institutions as a means to join ventures.
“We try to facilitate and encourage those joint ventures to help local companies to commercialize faster, make more money, create more innovative jobs and, at the same time, bring more businesses to open offices here,” she continued.
This year, seven Israeli-founded companies opened offices in Philadelphia with another handful expected to open in the coming year.
“That is substantial,” she said. “But if this city would not have been the city that it is today, it would not have the attractive aspects that it has today, this would have not happened.”
Rendell could not be reached for comment.
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